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HSE statistics show agriculture remains most dangerous industry

Thursday 05 July 2012

Provisional statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that farming remains the most dangerous sector in the UK. Figures on work-place fatalities reveal that, although more deaths were reported in the construction industry, with 49 fatal accidents compared to farming’s 33, per 100,000 workers, the number of deaths in agriculture was three times as high.


Overall the number of workers fatally injured in Britain remained unchanged from last year, though three more deaths were reported in the farming sector between April 2011 and March 2012, compared to the previous 12 month period. In the UK, the average rate of fatal injury is 0.6 per 100,000 workers, though in agriculture the figure is 9.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.


Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, said on unveiling the provisional figures, "Britain continues to have one of the lowest levels of workplace fatal injuries in Europe, part of a long term downward trend. But we must not forget that these are lives cut short, not statistics - every single one of these deaths will have caused terrible grief and anguish for family and friends as well as workmates and colleagues. This is the real tragedy of health and safety failures - lives cut short and loved ones lost.


"We want employers to focus on the real risks that continue to cause death and serious injury. HSE is working very hard to make it easier for people to understand what they need to do and to focus on the real priorities. Protecting people from death and serious injury at work should be at the heart of what we all do."


Under plans put forward by the HSE, which will come into force in October, businesses found to be in ‘material breach’ of health and safety regulation will have to foot the bill for inspections of their premises. The Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme will see farmers found to be flouting the law incurring a fee of £124 per hour for an inspection.


On premises where no breach is detected farmers will not be charged. The new rules are aimed at bolstering health and safety considerations, particularly in sectors which have a poor record.


The NFU objected to the plans when they were unveiled yesterday. A spokesperson for the union, which represents agricultural employers, said, “We are concerned about how material breaches will be identified in practice and the financial implications for our members when an accident occurs.”


Statistics released today by the Office for national Statistics show that 1.2 million Britons are working past the age of retirement – more than double the number recorded 20 years ago. This, combined with remote and often difficult working conditions and long hours, is thought to contribute towards making agriculture the country’s most dangerous industry.


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